By Kurt Stapleton
The peer support role takes on many shapes. You are a trusted confidant, a safe place, a mentor, a listener, a resource, a last hope…
I never envisioned myself to be in this role, yet I am here today and I am loving it.
My journey began many years ago and I didn’t have any knowledge of what recovery looked like and I was lost. I had the help of my wife, who also struggled with substance use disorder early in life and had some knowledge of what was out there. She was my peer support without knowing it. As I navigated through the murky waters of recovery and substance use disorder I always had her to talk to, share my success with, cry with, and just talk to when I really needed to talk to someone.
That is the reason I became a peer support specialist. To be able to walk with someone who is going through those difficult times and guide them and give them hope. To help empower them and inspire them to become independent and successful. It is an indescribable feeling.
The most rewarding part of this work is when that person you’ve been working with looks at you and says “Thank you so much for being there. Having you here is the only way I could have made it through.” I don’t take this lightly. I understand full well what they are saying and the meaning behind it. I have cried with people, I have laughed with them. Not everyone is successful unfortunately. And that is nothing I can control. I take the good with the bad and just be there if they reach out again.
I do this work because nobody should have to go through it alone. I do this work because I am here today because someone was there for me when I needed them the most.